5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending March 6

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include Hillary Clinton's questionable use of personal email while she was secretary of state, layoffs at SAP, a lawsuit against VMware for alleged misuse of open-source software, Alibaba's run-in with Taiwan regulators and Microsoft's discovery that Windows is vulnerable to the FREAK encryption flaw.

Hillary Clinton Under Fire For Using Personal Email Account While Secretary Of State

Potential presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton came under heavy criticism this week when it was disclosed that she relied on a personal email account to conduct government business when she served as U.S. Secretary of State. That may have violated the Federal Records Act that requires officials' correspondence be retained as part of the State Department's record, according to a New York Times story.

Clinton did not have a government email address during her entire four-year tenure in the cabinet-level post, according to the story, and her aides took no action to preserve her personal emails on department servers.

The dustup over Clinton's email habits is the latest incident of a high-visibility person caught up in an email-related kerfuffle. Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal stepped down from that job after a hacking incident exposed emails she had written.

SAP Lays Off 3 Percent Of Its Workforce

Software giant SAP disclosed this week that it would cut some 2,250 jobs, or about 3 percent of its total workforce, as the company transitions to cloud computing. While the company said it expects to create almost as many new jobs this year -- and some of those laid off will move to those jobs -- it's still bad news for some employees.

The layoffs are the latest sign that SAP's transformation from a supplier of on-premise applications to selling cloud applications isn't without costs. Earlier this year the company reduced its future earnings forecasts because cloud services bring in lower margins -- news that caused the company's stock to slide.

Taiwan Charges Alibaba With Rules Violations, Kicks Online Retailer Out

Alibaba Group, which has been riding high since going public in September, found itself in the news this week -- but not in a good way -- when Taiwan accused the online retailer of violating investment rules required for Chinese companies.

Taiwan ordered Alibaba to withdraw from the country within six months because of the alleged violations, according to a Reuters story. Alibaba was also fined T$120,000 (U.S. $3,824) because of the alleged transgressions. Alibaba, according to the story, said it would communicate with Taiwan's Investment Commission over the charges.

VMware Sued Over Its Use Of Linux

Virtualization system developer VMware was sued this week by Christoph Hellwig, the developer of the Linux kernel, who charged VMware with using portions of the Linux kernel code in violation of the GNU General Public License, according to a story on The Register.

The suit, filed in Hamburg, Germany, and backed by the Software Freedom Conservancy, an open-source software advocacy group, alleges that VMware used the code in its proprietary ESX and ESXi hypervisor software. VMware has said it considers the suit to be without merit.

FREAK Out: Windows Vulnerable To Encryption Vulnerability

Microsoft this week said that all supported versions of Windows are vulnerable to the FREAK encryption flaw that leaves devices open to communication interception when visiting websites, according to a CNET story.

Before now the flaw was thought to be limited to Apple's Safari and Google's Android-based browsers. But Microsoft said that after an investigation the company concluded that Windows was also vulnerable. Microsoft said it would address the problem either in its next Patch Tuesday update or in an out-of-cycle patch.